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When it comes to health and well-being, there are certainly a lot of factors that come into play. And though nobody can completely eliminate their chances of developing certain diseases and conditions, there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk.

A Healthy Weight

In recent years, researchers have learned just how important maintaining a healthy weight is for overall health. Being at a healthy weight reduces the risk for heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, depression and many other medical conditions. The primary way to reduce weight or maintain a healthy weight is to consume fewer calories by eating a healthy diet. Some of the basic pointers for eating healthily include choosing whole grains rather than refined sources of carbohydrates, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and choosing low-fat sources of calcium and dairy products, as well as lean sources of protein. Following healthy eating habits is not only good for overall weight, but it may offer additional protections to the heart as well as protection against other diseases.

The other factor that’s important for general health is fitness. Not only can a good fitness level help maintain a healthy weight, but it can also directly lower the risk for diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, among others. Most adults should strive for 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week. Two or more days of muscle-strengthening activities are also recommended.

A Good Relationship With a Health-Care Provider

Another critical part of the equation when it comes to maintaining good general health is to schedule regular checkups with a health-care provider. In fact, everyone should have a health-care provider whom they see regularly. The frequency at which people need to schedule checkups will vary based on age, gender and overall health status, so talk to your health-care provider about how often you should be seen, as well as what tests will be needed to maintain good health.

SOURCES: Office of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Office on Women's Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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